That Hershey’s bar might look like a sweet treat, but it has a bitter origin, in West Africa, where child labor is used in its production.
Last Wednesday, June 8, hundreds of students and concerned consumers gathered in front of the Hershey Store in Times Square, New York City, to call on Hershey to “raise the bar” by eliminating exploitative child labor from its cocoa production chain.
Demand That Hershey’s Stop Using Child Labor
Green America reports that Kerry Kennedy, Executive Director of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and Lee Cutler, the secretary treasurer of the New York State United Teachers Union, delivered passionate speeches, calling on America’s largest chocolate company to do something about the use of child labor in its supply chain. And the band Left on Red performed an amazing set of chocolate- and child-themed songs.
Hershey’s Lagging Behind Its Competitors
From The New York Daily News:
The demonstrators accused the confection king of welshing on its vow 10 years ago to eliminate using child laborers in their West African cocoa farms. Hershey’s is lagging behind its competitors who have already improved regulations on workers, they said.
“I think that it’s time to end all the empty promises,” said Tim Newman, an activist with the International Labor Rights Forum. “Right now we know that hundreds of thousands of kids in Ghana and the Ivory Coast are still working in hazardous conditions.”
Students from Public School 87, Brooklyn International High School and Benedictine Academy from Elizabeth, N.J., were among the 150 demonstrators, yelling, “Hershey’s: tastes good, feels bad.” The students have been studying global issues and were there as part of a field trip.
“I thought Hershey’s loved kids and I thought that would never happen,” said Marie Hagan, a fifth grader from Hamlin School in San Francisco, who took part in the protest. She was moved to act after watching the documentary, “The Dark Side of Chocolate.”
Promise To Eliminate Child Labor 10 Years Ago, But It’s Still Happening
A decade after major chocolate companies including Hershey agreed to eliminate abusive child labor, forced labor and trafficking from their supply chains, these abuses continue on West African cocoa farms. Hershey is lagging behind its competitors in implementing policies to end these abuses in its chocolate products. Families who grow cocoa also live in poverty due to unstable cocoa prices.
Students and consumers are calling on Hershey to take stronger action to end these labor rights violations and to start using Fair Trade Certified cocoa, which also guarantees farmers a stable price and additional funds for community development projects.
Care2′s Jaelithe Judy wrote here about the real cost of producing chocolate, including the shocking information that the average cocoa farmer in West Africa earns just 80 cents a day.
Please Take Action Now!
With World Day Against Child Labor coming up on June 12, please take action by clicking here and pledging to make your chocolate child labor free.
And thank you!
Photo Credit: Like_The_Grand_Canyon via Creative Commons